Four of us enjoyed a pleasant summer evening at the 4th Line Theatre early in July. It was their first dress rehearsal of The Great Shadow.
We have attended 4th Line Theatre for many years. Their mandate is what attracted us to their productions 30 years ago.
Mandate: To preserve and promote our Canadian cultural heritage through the development and presentation of regionally-based, environmentally-staged, historical dramas.
This is the 30th season for 4th Line Theatre. The evening began with an introduction in which a change of focus was shared.
That evening was also special because it was the first production following a two year hihatus. The evening started with some polite acknowledgments. Recognition was given to the Indigenous people, the Chippewa of the Williams tract, on whose traditional lands the production was being staged.
What made the acknowledgment more meaningful was that the announcements did not stop there. The director read the second of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. They committed to reading one before every performance.
The announcements did not end there. The director explained that 4th Line Theatre is expanding their mission of bringing local history to the stage. The topics presented in their first 30 years focused exclusively on local history during the colonial period.
Starting next year the topics will go much further back in history. They plan to present topics on local Indigenous history. At this time two historical dramas are being written.
It is exciting to see this theatre company broadening their scope and decide to start filling an important gap in our collective understanding of the lands we live on.
More recently we attended Wishful Seeing, a second summer historical drama at 4th Line Theatre.
Once again the land acknowledgment was made. This was followed by reading one of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
A family member who joined us for the production of Wishful Seeing wondered how the reading of one of the Call to Action fit into the performance. The reading had no connection to the historical drama being presented.
What was missing from the most recent introduction was the reason for the reading was not mentioned. Second, there was no mention made of the two Indigenous historic dramas currently being written.
By abbreviating the introductions, the message and the expanded focus of 4th Line Theatre was muddled.
Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what promises to be an exciting lineup for the 2023 season.
Attending 4th Line Theatre has become a summer tradition we hope to continue for many more years..
Jasper Hoogendam (c) 2022